INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Galen Sollom-Brotheron made Whitman College swimming history Wednesday night, becoming the first Missionary swimmer to score points at the NCAA Division III National Championships.
Sollom-Brotherton placed 10th in the finals of the 500-yard freestyle, coming with a fingertip or two of winning the consolation finals.
His time was 4:30.37, which was little more than one-half second behind Thomas Vieth, who won the consolation final in 4:29.84.
Sollom-Brotherton qualified for his evening race after placing 13th in the morning preliminaries with a time of 4:32.26.
The top 16 swimmers in the morning preliminaries of each individual event advance to the evening finals. The top eight swim in the championship final while next eight compete in the consolation final.
Sollom-Brotherton's time was less than three-tenths of a second off the time he posted in winning the Northwest Conference Championships a month ago. His time at the NWC meet set new Whitman and conference records.
"Galen swam just a little tight in the morning prelims, but he put it all together with his evening swim," Whitman coach Jenn Blomme said. "He was just barely touched out for first in the consolation finals.
"He also swam very close to his season-best time from the conference meet, which is a tremendous accomplishment given how hard it is to have two tapers in such close proximity.
"As it is, he's still the 10th fastest 500 swimmers in the nation, and we're very proud of that."
By placing in the consolation finals, Sollom-Brotherton also earned All-American Honorable Mention recognition.
Both Sollom-Brotherton and freshman teammate Karl Mering will be out to score more team points on Thursday.
Mering swam in Wednesday's prelims of the 50-yard freestyle but tied for 37th in 21.23, which was two-tenths of a second faster than he swam in placing third at last month's NWC finals.
"Karl swam a really solid 50 in what a very fast field," Blomme said. "He didn't hit his turn quite as well as he wanted but the way he was swimming looked great."
One indicator of the fast field, Blomme said, was that a new NCAA record was set in the preliminaries.
On Thursday, Sollom-Brotherton swims in the 400-yard individual medley while Mering competes in the 100-yard butterfly.